Date published: 12 May 2023
It cannot have failed to escape anyone’s notice that Liverpool is busier than normal this week with thousands of visitors descending on the city for this weekend’s Eurovision finals. It’s great to see somewhere outside London getting the focus for hosting such a popular event.
Having an estimated extra 100,000 people in Liverpool over the last week has, of course, caused a strain on NHS resources. We have been working closely with local partners and the Cheshire and Merseyside ICB to ensure local residents and visitors know what to do if they need health services.
Alongside the semi-finals and finals over the last week have been various Eurovision themed events and everywhere you look around the city this week, there are smiling, happy faces. Everyone seems to be embracing the event and the buzz it has brought to the area.
There is a clear link between being involved in the arts and improved mental health, which is why many of our teams encourage patients and service users to engage with art, music, and drama. A lot of the work and classes provided by The Life Rooms and the Government’s commitment to social prescribing has its foundations in how engaging in the arts often leads to improved mental health.
You’ll see from the images below how Liverpool has embraced the Eurovision experience, yet we know that behind the smiles, cheers and laughter, there will be people in those crowds who may be struggling with their mental health.
According to the 2014 survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing in England, which was the most recent survey, one in six of people aged 16+ have had a mental health issue. We think those statistics have increased to something like one in four now and it will be interesting to see the results of the next survey, which is due later this year.
If we are right in thinking figures are closer to one in four, then it’s never been a better time to remind ourselves of the important work the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) has done since it was formed in 2017. It also fits in well with the start of Mental Health Awareness Week on Monday (May 15-21).
Initially established as a body representing individuals and organisations in their commitment to preventing suicide in the UK, the ZSA has evolved into an important organisation that aims to empower, educate, and equip individuals and other organisations to support suicide awareness and prevention.
When the ZSA was first launched it had only one training module, but has now expanded to seven different editions, all of which are available in British Sign Language. They have also developed very useful resources which investigate factors which may contribute to someone dying from suicide, highlight best and innovative practice and highlight a variety of tools to support suicide prevention work.
All this important work has led to nearly 2.5 million people taking one of the varied training opportunities, which means all those people who have taken the time to look at one of the modules is now better prepared to help approach those who may be struggling and signpost them to get help.
You’ll see from the infographic above how good the feedback is and I think it’s worth explaining the variety of all the different training modules, which gives everyone a chance to get a better understanding of suicidal behaviour.
- Suicide Awareness Training – 20 minute training where you will gain skills and confidence to help someone who may be considering suicide
- Gateway module – A five to 10 minute version of the main course
- Social Isolation Training step up module – A five to 10 minute brief introduction to social isolation and how it affects our mental health
- Suicide Awareness Training Welsh Edition – the 20 minute version of the training in the Welsh language
- Suicide Awareness Training University Student Edition – A 20 minute version developed specifically for university students and includes information and scenarios that are related to experiences while away studying
- Suicide Awareness Training Veteran Edition – A 30 minute module developed alongside Help for Heroes
- Suicide Awareness Training Taxi Driver Edition – A 10 minute module developed with taxi drivers and local authorities and coaches passenger related scenarios and how to recognise signs of suicidal behaviour.
Further information on the training can be found on the ZSA website and I would urge everyone reading my blog to both promote these resources and, if you haven’t done so already, spend some time to do one of the modules. That person you’ve been speaking to as you wait for the next act at the Eurovision finals may benefit from you having knowledge of suicidal signs.
For those of you going this week, please enjoy it and stay safe. I’m sure many more of us will be joining the vast television audience over the weekend and enjoying the finale to Eurovision week in Liverpool.
Prof Joe Rafferty CBE